Monday, May 7, 2012

Not In MY Beach Yard

Many people enjoy the dream of a simple life.. with a little house on the beach, toes in white sand and a view of the horizon.  Some of those people succeed and are able to buy that beachfront property.  But there lies a friendly beast called erosion, who doesn't care how many figures you make a year, or how pretty that house is in the backshore.  Longshore currents will propel waves obliquely at that white luxurious sand, and backwash it into the sea. Yet here's where money does matter.   If you have enough of it you can build a protective structure called a 'groin' that will help you sustain that piece of beach right in front of your house.

It's a popular type of beach nourishment that can be seen up and down the Jersey shore, around Lake Michigan and many other popular shorelines for homeowners.
Here is where it becomes a problem.  If homeowner A erects such a sand stabilizer, it will create a zone of erosion for landowner B.  It makes the longshore current regenerate further down coast (Fig. 3.1).   But groins can be an integral part of preserving breeding areas of endangered birds, or keeping inland areas from flooding.  Arguments on who then can erect these structures are making their way off the shore and into courts. 

Fig. 3.1 – beach groin erosion patterns

Image source: USGS site: 

The BlueRibbon Committee on Shoreline Management propose to ban the use of these structures in South Carolina.  In this state, over 166 groins extend from the shore, and that's just the region of shoreline  south of Myrtle Beach!  Areas of beach below these groins erode faster than normal due to the depletion of sand from shifted currents, making the dream of toes in white sand a bit more of a nightmare for some of the shore's anthropogenic dwellers.


WCBD News 2. Associated Press, 2 May 2012. Web. 2 May 2012. <>.
Barton, Tom. Shoreline committee urges ban of groins. Chicago News Tribune, 3 May 2012. Web. 5 May 2012. <,0,6202891.story>.
Herring, Brandon. SC could abandon certain erosion-prevention efforts. WMBF News, 2 May 2012. Web. 8 May 2012. <>.

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